A federal jury in Philadelphia on Tuesday convicted a British national of one count of conspiring to obstruct justice, after he spent years fighting extradition to the U.S. on price-fixing allegations.
But Ian P. Norris, 67, the former chief executive of United Kingdom carbon products manufacturer The Morgan Crucible Company plc, was found not guilty of two other obstruction charges. The jury acquitted him of attempting to sway grand jury witness testimony and of intending to cause the destruction of records.
The case was closely watched as a test of the U.S.’s ability to extradite foreign nationals to face criminal antitrust charges.
“We are gratified that the jury acquitted Mr. Norris on all counts alleging obstruction of justice as well as attempted obstruction of justice,” Norris’s attorneys, Christopher M. Curran and J. Mark Gidley of White & Case LLP, said in a statement.
They added: “We are disappointed by the jury’s conviction of Mr. Norris on the conspiracy count (24 hours after the jury announced an “impasse” on this count). But based upon juror interviews, we believe that the jury was confused. We intend to act quickly to overturn the sole count of conviction.”
Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney, who heads the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, said in a statement: “Today’s verdict holds Norris accountable for his actions and sends a message that corporate leaders must promote a culture of law abiding conduct within their companies or be prepared to face stiff prison sentences.”
Click here to read the Justice Department news release.
The original charge against Norris was lodged in 2004, when a federal grand jury indicted him on charges of price fixing and obstruction of justice. But the case stalled as Norris fought extradition from the U.K.
After vigorously contesting extradition, Norris won a 2008 ruling in England that blocked his removal to the U.S. on the price-fixing charges. The U.K., however, permitted his extradition on the obstruction of justice allegations, and he arrived in the U.S. in March for trial.
The Justice Department had accused Norris of conspiring with his employees to create a fake script for them to use when questioned in the investigation.
The company and three of its employees pleaded guilty in 2002 to tampering with witnesses and destroying documents, and the company paid a $1 million criminal fine.
A former U.S. subsidiary of the firm also pleaded guilty that year to price fixing charges and paid a $10 million fine.
Trial attorneys Lucy McClain, Richard Rosenberg, and Kimberly Justice of the Antitrust Division’s regional office in Philadelphia prosecuted the case.
This story has been updated.